In many travel industry news lately, there has been a resurgence of travel, and international travel is part of that recovery. As the world has sprung back from the many restrictions from the Covid pandemic, so has travel. Covid restrictions have relaxed worldwide, and Americans now have many more travel options. There are many tips I can give if international travel is in your future. But after talking to a few friends currently traveling internationally, here are five tips for international travelers.
Although many Americans think of the US as the world’s trendsetter, Covid realities have proven that the US trails the world regarding Covid documentation. QR codes in the US are far more uncommon than in many international destinations. Worldwide, digital QR codes allow others to access Covid test results and Covid vaccinations. Many international destinations require this digital proof for entry rather than a photocopied or scanned copy of a vaccination report or test. In many cases, you may be denied entry or turned away from your destination without a QR code, so check the requirements and prepare accordingly.
Visa travel requirements.
Again, many Americans think that the US passport is all that is needed for travel. Although the US passport allows for visa-free travel to many countries, many international destinations require a visa upon entry. In some cases, a visa upon entry into some countries is available. However, many travelers will find the error of not considering visa requirements at the airport check-in when they are denied boarding. Other times they will discover this fact when they are denied entry and never get to leave the airport of the country after hours of travel. Travelers can apply for travel visas at the country’s embassy, consulate, or online. Please ensure you apply when necessary and be aware of scam sites using an online platform.
After years of traveling, it’s amazing how many travelers travel with little travel information. At most international destinations, a landing card or arrival card is required. This card is considered a legal document presented at immigration and used by the country authorities to collect information on passengers entering their country. This includes personal details, flight information, and travel details such as hotel stay with name and address. It’s incredible how many people simply know the destination but not the flight number of the airplane they are traveling on. Please try to have all this information and a pen in your hand-carry luggage when traveling internationally.
WhatsApp messenger service.
While not as common in the US, the WhatsApp messenger service is used worldwide. It only requires Wi-Fi in some cases but may incur international charges based on your cellular plan. Please remember to turn roaming off on your phone to avoid fees. Most importantly, WhatsApp calls are free when connected to the internet. The key to using this service when traveling internationally is downloading and setting up the app before leaving your home country. Additionally, have those you plan to stay in contact with download the app. I have found that calls and chats are easier on the app if the person you are trying to contact is listed in your WhatsApp contacts.
If you are taking prescription medications, please travel with your prescription bottle and carry medicines in your hand-carry. Many people carry weekly pill carriers with medication they may identify on sight. However, if you ever lose your medication when traveling, having the prescription bottle, which has your identification information and the medication name, will make it much easier to access the replacement medication. In some countries, you may simply go to the pharmacy with the information and bypass seeing a doctor.
These are but five tips that are useful if you’re thinking of international travel. There are many more, so look for future blog posts with even more tips and information. If you found any of these helpful.
Travel comes with some inequities in the travel and tourism industry for people of color. Often that impact is also affected by race and nationality. The reality is that traveling while black comes with some individual challenges. In my travels as a black woman, I have experienced being denied certain privileges because of my race by non-blacks and other people of color. With non-blacks, I have encountered people thinking I am not good enough or entitled to enjoy the same travel experiences. With some people of color, there is sometimes a judgment or derision that I think I am better because I am experiencing certain travel opportunities. Race, nationality, and ethnicity are the realities of traveling while black. Here are my thoughts.
I define EbonyTravelers, as any traveler of color. As someone who has experienced the travel space professionally and personally, I am confident that travelers of color are identified primarily by their race. If someone were to ask me, I would say we are all one race, the human race. However, the reality is that at first sight, I am recognizably a part of what many define as the black race. That racial identity is a part of my reality when I travel because, in many countries, my race often defines me as a minority. Usually, I travel and go into quaint little stores in the tourist areas. Because of my race, I prepare myself to encounter issues from those who may not see me as simply a tourist. I am careful not to put my hands in my pockets or go into my purse, as someone may assume I have taken something. Unfortunately, this experience is a common one for many travelers of color.
With travel, race and nationality are two distinct constructs. Travel identification first comes from one’s passport, which automatically defines nationality. When traveling internationally, one’s identity is often determined by the passport one carries. I travel under an American passport, so my travel identification is based on that nationality. I’ve found that when I identify as an American, even though my black race is apparent, my travel experiences are more favorable.
Ethnicity and nationality are different constructs but sometimes just as important as race and nationality. Ethnicity is related to race and culture. I was born in Barbados, even though I travel under an American passport. The ethnicity of Barbados also includes race, but ethnicity does not seem to be a factor in travel as much as race and nationality. When I travel, it is not until I have conversations with people that my ethnicity is recognized, so I find that it does not often affect my black travel experience.
Regardless of race, nationality, or ethnicity, there is racism in the travel industry, and it affects the experiences of EbonyTravelers. There is often a need to produce more identification and a justification of reason for traveling than other travelers experience. Additionally, people of color are subject to more random searches and checks while traveling than non-blacks.
Despite the realities of traveling while black, I believe there is a need to show the experiences to black travelers more than ever. While there has been a surge in black travelers, there is still a lack of inclusion in mainstream travel advertising. As a result, many people of color are unaware of the many travel experiences they can experience. A more diverse travel perspective needs to be shared so more travelers of color can enjoy the travel experience. Travel makes us better, and the more black people are exposed to travel, the more race, nationality, and ethnicity mean less.
As a former flight attendant, I have seen many travelers take offense to a flight attendant’s request to follow an airline rule. I can honestly say that flight attendants do not try to make passengers unhappy. In contrast, happy passengers make for a comfortable flight for everyone. Flight attendants are simply doing their job, and that job comes with rules and regulations they must follow and ensure that you do as well. Not enforcing the rules exposes flight attendants to fines and loss of employment. Here are a few reasons for the rules some passengers take offense to.
Although it may be comfortable not to wear a seatbelt, there is an excellent reason for ensuring that passengers wear their seatbelts during the flight. One of the most compelling reasons is air turbulence. There are times when turbulence occurs without warning. If this happens and a passenger is not wearing a seatbelt, they can be severely injured or killed. One of the reasons this does not occur often is because flight attendants ensure seatbelts are worn.
Airplane exit seats are desirable because of the extra legroom. However, many passengers conveniently forget that the extra room is there to get people out of the airplane in an emergency quickly. This reason is why young children and disabled people are not allowed to sit in the exit row. Imagine a young child trying to open and throw a 70-pound window exit or someone unable to get out the exit quickly. Flight attendants are required to ask before every flight if a passenger is willing and able to assist in the event of an emergency. Moreover, there is no time to rearrange seats in an emergency. Therefore, even when the exit seat is available, there may be a reason a passenger is unable to sit in it.
The seatbelt sign.
Passengers must be seated before the aircraft can leave the gate and stay seated until the seatbelt sign has been turned off. This rule is not an airline rule but an FAA rule. Although there are rare cases, flights have had to stop on the runway suddenly, and if not seated, passengers can be hurt. In addition, airplanes can occasionally collide, which is another chance for passenger injury. However, these occurrences are rare, and so often, passengers think walking around to be of no danger when that is far from the truth.
Disruptive passengers have become more and more common recently. However, passengers should understand that flight attendants are doing a job that requires them to enforce the rules. Not following these rules can impact passenger safety and jeopardize a flight attendants’ job. Challenging flight attendants on basic rules is simply being rude. By sharing this information, I hope that the reader will be just a bit kinder to flight attendants next time they get on an airplane and merely follow the rules.
Almost every person has a smartphone and a mobile App they use every day. Many travelers use their phones no matter the destination. But now, more than ever, travelers take advantage of mobile Apps to help them through the travel process. Whether planning a trip or getting help during a trip, some Apps can help you save time and money and make the travel journey much less stressful. Here are three Apps I think every traveler should have.
Airline Apps have significantly improved over the past few years. While they are not often used to purchase tickets, they are most assuredly used to enhance the travel experience. Airline Apps allow you to see your travel itinerary and essential information such as booking codes and ticket numbers. This information is often overlooked but can be crucial when discussing your travel with ticketing agents. The airline app will also allow you to check in for your flight, change seats or select meal preferences. In addition, the App will have up-to-date travel information, sometimes even before it displays on airport information screens. Travelers can also opt-in for travel alerts to notify them of flight delays, gate changes, or flight cancellations. Some airline Apps even allow you to watch airline entertainment from your mobile device. These are just a few of the advantages of having the airline App when traveling. So, if you plan to travel, check if the airline you plan to travel on has an App and download it before you go.
Flight booking Apps.
Plenty of flight booking Apps are available that all claim to help you find the best trip at the best price. The best perk of a flight booking App is that it compares many flight options all in one place. The best flight booking App depends on the travelers’ preferences and priorities. Some Apps will help you with the best time to book and purchase a ticket. Some are better if you want a guaranteed refund in the event of delay or cancellation. Most importantly, travelers can set alerts for price drops and can take advantage of flight bargains when available. Like airline Apps, flight booking Apps also keep all your flight information in one location, even previous booking information. In addition, many flight booking Apps will also provide options for hotel or rental car information and suggest tourist trips or destination information. Whether you have precise flight booking needs or flexibility with your travel dates or destination, a flight booking App is a great place to start.
Hotel Apps allow travelers to create a more customized experience and a convenient way to discuss their hotel needs with the hotel. Many hotel Apps now have a mobile check-in and check-out process and mobile key cards for hotel room access. With some hotel Apps, hotel guests no longer have to interact with front desk personnel or stand in line for check-in or request a room upgrade. The hotel App may also link other hotel services such as ordering room service, booking dining reservations, making spa appointments, or requesting your car from the valet. Like the airline and flight booking Apps, hotel Apps allow guests to have all their booking information in one location. If you plan a hotel stay, see if your hotel has an App, and take advantage of the many benefits it may provide.
These are just a few of the available travel Apps and I did not name any specifically because I think preference is personal. If you want a more customized travel experience, travel Apps may help you realize a better service experience. Do you use any travel apps? Comment below and let me know.
For travelers with pets, considerations must be made when making travel plans. For many, pets are a part of the family, and traveling decisions are made around the pet’s needs. Can the pet be taken on the trip? Will they have to board the pet? How long can they make a trip? How will the pet travel? These and many more concerns need to be well thought out. Here are a few thoughts for travelers with pets.
Traveling with a pet.
Traveling with a pet locally is not as cost prohibitive as traveling with a pet internationally. Most small pets can travel with the owner in an approved pet carrier when traveling domestically for a small fee. For larger breeds, travel must be in the cargo area and will require a specially designated approved pet crate. Some pets can also fly at no charge if they are fully trained service animals. When traveling internationally, your pet needs to have a health certificate to prove that they are in good health and free from parasites or any contagious diseases. In addition, based on the country’s destination, other paperwork, including a picture of your pet, microchip information, as well as health and vaccination records, are required.
Pet owners should ensure their pets have a sturdy leash and collar with current identification. In addition to having a recent picture of your pet and copies of your pet’s health and vaccination records. It is prudent to have your pet microchipped and access to that information with you when you travel. It is not uncommon for pets to become alarmed and run off when in unfamiliar surroundings.
The average cost of boarding a pet in the US averages $30 to $50 per night. Rates can vary based on the size of your pet, the length of stay, or boarding accommodations. Depending on your dog’s age, other special considerations and needs will have to be addressed, and if you want your pet to socialize daily, this may also add to the boarding costs. In addition, the pet must be current on vaccinations as they will be exposed to other dogs.
Not all hotels have pet accommodations, so travelers must ensure that their hotel will allow them to have their pets on the premises. Like when traveling with babies or toddlers, pet owners should ensure the hotel is free from any hazards that could harm the pet. In addition, consideration must be made on whether the pet can stay in the room without supervision or if it needs to be always with the owner to prevent costly damages to the room.
Travelers need to take many other travel considerations, including your pets’ food and water, potty breaks, exercise, and even travel sickness. In addition, any delay or cancellation of your travel plans will also affect any accommodations you have made or will have to make for your pet. If you plan to travel with your pet, I hope you think it through as much as you do for yourself and your family. For me, pets are like family too.
Most hotel rooms are standard, but you don’t have to see your holiday stay as a sterile place. Incorporating personal touches into your hotel room can enhance the vacation experience. Here are five ways I try to add my personal touch to a room when I travel.
I try to unpack whether it’s for the weekend or the week. I hang up my clothing, spread out my toiletries in the bathroom, put my shoes out and my suitcase away. I like my hotel room to feel like it’s my own. I usually walk with my journal, so I leave it on the bedside table and put away all the hotel brochures. I unpack my electronics and plug them in using one area of the room, so I won’t overlook any when I leave.
Candles are a lovely way to fill a room with your favorite scent. I walk with a candle warmer and place my candle on it when I unpack. In a few hours, the smell will fill your room with a beautiful aroma instead of a sterile hotel smell. Be cautious; however, never light candles and leave them, just as you would not do so at home. I like to use small sample candles. The trick is to remember to turn off your candle warmer the night before you leave, as your candle will have time to become firm for packing. Once firm, it can stay in your suitcase for use repeatedly.
A small speaker.
If you require more volume than your device gives, then a tiny speaker does the trick. There are so many options on the market that are tiny but pack an incredible punch for noise output. You will listen to your music and get into the mood you desire with your music. Please remember your neighbors and keep the volume down, especially late at night.
For a luxurious feel, travel with your pillowcase. For EbonyTravelers, this can be especially helpful for hair care and maintenance. In my opinion, choosing a satin or silk pillowcase is a personal preference. Silk is a more expensive option, but the less expensive satin is also a great choice. Only you will know what is best for your hair type and sleeping style. The benefit of having your pillowcase is you can use it to store your dirty clothes when you are ready to pack for leaving.
Handicap accessible room.
If possible, request a handicap-accessible room when checking in. These rooms are typically larger in size because they are designed for wheelchair access, so doors are wider. Outlets are more accessible, and best of all, it is illegal to charge more for an accessible room, so you’ll get more space at the same price. Please always be considerate of those with genuine needs and know that your request may not always be honored.
Do you like to feel at home when on vacation, or do you prefer to know that you are away from home? Please let me know in the comment section below.